Home away from home?

An unexpected little piece of news was broken Tuesday afternoon by B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press. Sources tell Rains that Boise State is looking into moving its home men’s basketball games Thursday and Saturday to the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa. Game 1 against Utah State next week would also be part of the plan, but Game 2 versus the Aggies would not due to the Idaho Girls State Basketball Tournaments (although I’d think there would be a conflict with the USU game on Thursday, February 18, as well). Rains was told that Broncos athletic director Jeremiah Dickey was advancing the idea. This is bound to be controversial, as it’s not exactly in the “spirit of public health.” But, if like Rains reports, the crowd is restricted to 1,600-1,800, fans could socially-distance and keep their masks on. But would they?


Boise State has played two games all-time at the Idaho Center, and crowds were part of the story in both. The first was an NIT game against Wisconsin-Milwaukee (and coach Bruce Pearl) in 2004, a game that had to be moved out of what was then Taco Bell Arena due to a previously-scheduled concert. A throng of 10,153 watched the Broncos win 73-70. The only other time was against Idaho on New Year’s Eve, 2011, when the facility served as a neutral site. That was Boise State’s first season in the Mountain West (the Vandals were still in the WAC). A split-allegiance crowd of 7,540 saw a 76-73 Broncos win.


It won’t matter if it’s ExtraMile Arena or the Ford Idaho Center. Boise State needs to make free throws against UNLV. That’s what championship teams do, right? The Broncos were 9-for-14 from the charity stripe last Friday night at Nevada and 19-for-27 on Sunday. They have been worse—the issue in Game 2 against the Wolf Pack was when they were missing them. “One-and-ones,” bemoaned coach Leon Rice on the KBOI postgame show. “You miss four front-ends—that’s eight points.” You could see him shaking his head right through the radio. Marcus Shaver Jr. missed the front end of a one-and-one with five minutes left in the half and the Broncos trailing by one. Emmanuel Akot did the same thing a minute later. And there were regular ol’ misses down the stretch when things were slipping away.


This will not surprise you. Nevada’s Grant Sherfield was named Mountain West Player of the Week on Tuesday. Sherfield not only led the Wolf Pack to a sweep of UNLV last week, he did the same thing to Boise State, knocking the Broncos into third place in the conference. In Game 1, he scored 20 points with an eye-popping 14 assists. In Game 2 Sherfield put up a career-high 29 points and dished out another eight assists, shooting over and around the Broncos. He started and ended the first half with three-pointers, and fittingly, sealed it from the free throw line with four makes in the final 47 seconds. Sherfield may have jumped into the driver’s seat for Mountain West Player of the Year honors.


It’s always something in the Mountain West. “Due to health and safety concerns, the men’s basketball series between Utah State and Wyoming scheduled for Feb. 10-12 has been postponed,” said a Tuesday afternoon statement released by the conference. So another one bites the dust. The Aggies also had their game versus Fresno State last Friday night postponed, so USU will have gone almost two weeks without playing when it (hopefully) comes to Boise next week. Then there’s New Mexico. The Lobos were said to be considering opting out of the rest of the season a week ago, but they were set to play at Colorado State Tuesday night. Then, less than an hour before tipoff, the two-game series was postponed “due to COVID-19 issues within the New Mexico men’s basketball program.”


Whatever holes there were in Boise State’s compliance process during “Couchgate” 10 years ago appear to have been shorn up, according to a story by Ron Counts of the Statesman. Counts reports that “Boise State athletes across four sports received an impermissible discount on their rent at an off-campus housing complex for about four years before it was discovered by the university. Two athletes were suspended.” They were considered Level 3 violations by the NCAA and were dealt with by the university when discovered in 2019. “Boise State worked in lock-step with the NCAA staff to get student-athletes reinstated for competition, and with the NCAA enforcement staff to determine, where applicable, appropriate penalties for a Level 3 violation,” the university said in a statement to the Statesman.


I’ve mentioned that there could be worse things than Boise State’s delay in the east side renovation of Albertsons Stadium—Hawaii’s predicament being the prime example. The Rainbow Warriors are expecting to play at least the next two seasons at a taped-together campus facility while Aloha Stadium is torn down and rebuilt. That’s the best option they have. UH expects to lose $400,000 annually playing football in Manoa. That’s all? If the Broncos were in the same situation it would be millions. I guess that tells you what a sorry state Hawaii’s turnstiles were in the past five-plus seasons.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!

February 10, 2016, five years ago today: Not just the one that got away, but the one that was devastatingly taken away from Boise State. In overtime at Colorado State, BSU inbounded with 0.8 seconds left, and James Webb III banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Broncos a dramatic 87-84 win. But the officials, after reviewing an imbedded stopwatch on a replay, ruled Webb didn’t get the shot off in time, and CSU would go on to win in the second OT, 97-93. The story blew up nationally, especially after the Mountain West released the video “proof.” The evidence instead showed the imbedded stopwatch was running too fast. The conference backtracked, saying the shot should have counted. But the game’s result would not be reversed.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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